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15 Greatest MLS Players of All Time

Soccer has grown quite a bit at the MLS level since its first season in 1996. Now up to 27 teams, they are bringing in better and better talents from around the world. They are not a top-tier league in international soccer just yet, but it is still part of the plan to get there at some point.

In its relatively short history, there have been some pretty outstanding MLS players come through the ranks. Who are the 15 best of all time? This list tries to identify those who stood out a little more than others.

15. Carlos Vela

  • Games: 83
  • Goals: 57
  • Assists: 25

Carlos Vela is one of the current stars in the league right now. As a standout for Los Angeles FC, he took home the 2019 MLS MVP and won the Golden Boot.

He set a record by scoring 34 goals in 34 games, which helped him smash the single-season record in the history for combined goals and assists. No one knows for sure just how long he will stay in MLS, but he could go down as one of the true greats at this pace.

14. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

  • Games: 56
  • Goals: 52
  • Assists: 14

The MLS run of Zlatan Ibrahimovic was fairly short. However, he showed just how dominant of a player he is even at an advanced age. He made an instant impact for the LA Galaxy in two seasons, appearing in 56 games and scoring 52 goals.

Many thought that when he came to MLS, he was not playing at the highest levels. He proved everyone wrong, and then re-signed with AC Milan in 2020 despite being in his late 30s. On top of being an excellent player, Ibrahimovic turned into a fan-favorite in LA, and a bit of a lovable villain across the rest of the league.

13. David Beckham

  • Games: 98
  • Goals: 18
  • Assists: 32

David Beckham will always be known as someone who made a greater impact on MLS instead of being a true superstar. When signing with the LA Galaxy, he shows the world that people should take this league seriously.

He ended up spending several years with the team and won a couple of MLS Cups. He was no longer in his prime, but he still had plenty of talent left in the tank.

No, Beckham was not at his best in the United States, but he was no slouch either. A lot of teams are hoping to this day that signing a player of his caliber turns out like this.

12. David Villa

  • Games: 117
  • Goals: 77
  • Assists: 21

New York City FC made a pretty big splash when their first signed player was announced as David Villa. He is another star from Europe who came to MLS past his prime, but he still found ways to contribute at a high level.

He scored a total of 77 goals for the team in four seasons, turning them into a contender almost right away. For his efforts, he won the 2016 MLS MVP.

11. Carlos Valderrama 

  • Games: 175
  • Goals: 16
  • Assists: 69

The Columbian star became one of the first faces of MLS when he signed with the Tampa Bay Mutiny in the inaugural season.

He still holds the MLS record for assists in a season, and he will be remembered as the first MVP of the league as well. His play helped add some credibility to MLS right from the beginning. If he played longer in the league, perhaps he would be in that inner circle of superstars.

10. Preki

  • Games: 242
  • Goals: 79
  • Assists: 75

There has only been one two-time MVP in league history, and that is Preki. He also has a pair of MLS scoring titles, solidifying himself as one of the best to suit up in the league. In their early years, the Kansas City Wizards found a way to contend almost every year, and he is a big reason why.

Maybe he did not have the longevity at the top that others on this list pulled off, but it is hard to tell the history of the league without mentioning him.

9. Jeff Agoos 

  • Games: 244
  • Goals: 12
  • Assists: 15

A strong defender who found a way to win five MLS Cups, Jeff Agoos is largely overlooked to this day. He was a very dependable player for both DC United and San Jose throughout his career.

He was the 2001 MLS Defender of the Year and never seemed to have an off match. Defenders do not always get the type of praise they deserve, but many people who follow the league still remember Agoos as one of the best.

8. Marco Etcheverry

  • Games: 191
  • Goals: 34
  • Assists: 69

Marco Etcheverry spent his entire MLS career with DC United. He was a major player in three MLS Cup championships, and he won the MLS MVP in 1998.

The offensive manager for his team most of the time, as he was able to get himself and others involved pretty consistently.

7. Nick Rimando

  • Games: 514
  • Goals Conceded: 629
  • Clean Sheets: 155

It is hard for goalkeepers to get their respect on all-time lists when they have success. However, many think of Nick Rimando as the greatest goalkeeper in league history. He won a pair of MLS Cups, and he holds several career records such as wins, shutouts, saves, and appearances.

He also had one of the most memorable saves in the history of the league, blocking a shot against the LA Galaxy in a shootout to solidify a championship for Real Salt Lake.

6. Dwayne De Rosario

  • Games: 342
  • Goals: 104
  • Assists: 57

Dwayne De Rosario spent the vast majority of his prime playing in MLS. In total, he suited up for five teams, and his run with DC United led to him winning the 2011 MLS MVP.

He is most remembered for his ability to score, as he always seems to have a flair for the dramatic. When the team was struggling, he found a way to make the plays necessary to pull out a few victories his team had no business winning.

5. Diego Valeri

  • Games: 252
  • Goals: 85
  • Assists: 67

Ask any fan of the Portland Timbers, and Diego Valeri deserves to be ranked as the greatest MLS player of all time. It could be debated in some ways, as he is the 2017 MLS MVP, but he needs a few more solid seasons to get that rating.

He is extremely technically gifted and drives other teams crazy with his creativity. Valeri still has some years left in him to truly make a greater mark on the league.

4. Jaime Moreno 

  • Games: 340
  • Goals: 133
  • Assists: 102

Jamie Moreno’s run with DC United will be one of the most memorable in MLS history. He won a total of four MLS Cups with the team, and contributed with goals and assists every time out.

He is one of only two players to have 100 goals and 100 assists in their MLS career, and he was a leader in many different ways for the squad. Without him, there is no way that DC United would have the type of run they put together.

3. Robbie Keane

  • Games: 125
  • Goals: 83
  • Assists: 34

His six-year stint with the Los Angeles Galaxy is right up there with the best of the best.

Robbie Keane became another extraordinary piece alongside David Beckham and Landon Donovan, and it should come as no surprise that they won three MLS Cups in four years. He might have the least star power of the three, but he did win the 2014 MLS MVP.

2. Chris Wondolowski

  • Games: 399
  • Goals: 166
  • Assists: 43

Chris Wondolowski holds the distinction of being the all-time leading goal scorer in MLS history. Yes, he has been in the league for a very long time, but he is not just a compiler.

He was the winner of the 2012 MLS MVP, and has a pair of MLS Cup wins to his name as well. He just recently retired and will go down as a legend in San Jose Earthquakes history.

1. Landon Donovan

  • Games: 340
  • Goals: 146
  • Assists: 110

There are quite a few MLS fans who believe that he is the face of the league up to this point. Landon Donovan was able to take home six MLS Cups and an MVP trophy in 2009.

He is currently ranked second all-time in goals scored, and first in career assists. He found a way to get it done for a long time, and he stayed in MLS when he probably could have gone elsewhere. A winner as well as an individual talent, fans will long remember him as one of the true MLS greats.